The Good Doctor: Season 4/ Episode 8 “Parenting” – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

Lea’s parents arrive, and at a certain point, you may think she is making more out of her relationship with Shaun than they are. Also, Claire reveals why she is on Dr. Lim’s case.

Pam (Julie Warner) and Mike (Barclay Hope), Lea's parents

Lea’s parents arrive, and at a certain point, you may think she is making more out of her relationship with Shaun than they are. Also, Claire reveals why she is on Dr. Lim’s case.

Director(s) Rachel Leiterman
Writer(s) Patti Carr
Aired (ABC) 1/25/2021
Introduced This Episode
Mike Barclay Hope
Pam Julie Warner
Darya Eden Summer Gilmore
Darya’s Dad Kristoffer Polaha

This content contains pertinent spoilers. Also, images and text may contain affiliate links, which, if a purchase is made, we’ll earn money or products from the company.


Father/Daughter Issues – Darya, Darya’s Dad

You know the story is good if we’re not trying to link it to the main characters, right? In the case of the patients for this episode, it is a 14-year-old girl named Darya and her dad who come to the hospital. Part of the reason is Darya doing a bit too much in gymnastics and taking hormones to have a more womanly figure. But complications arise as Darya’s dad releases his responsibility of making medical decisions to her, and when he reverses the decision, Darya saying she’ll have herself emancipated.

Darya (Eden Summer Gilmore) in her hospital bed
Darya (Eden Summer Gilmore)

This leads to Dr. Lim, already stressed out and having no desire to give Darya some sort of grace, treating her like an adult. This includes, after her father falls ill, pushing Darya to make a medical decision for her dad. Which, when she can’t do so, leads to a reset in Darya and her father’s relationship. One which has long been fractured by Darya’s father more comfortable being her coach, after Darya’s mother died, than her father. Yet, with her injury, it seems their relationship will have to evolve.

Meet The Parents – Mike, Pam, Shaun, Lea, Dr. Glassman, Morgan

While Lea isn’t necessarily invested in what her parents think, because, usually, it is negative when it comes to her, they are still her parents. So, she allows them to meet Shaun, and Dr. Glassman and Morgan try to help Shaun prepare. However, things turn left as the idea Dr. Glassman doesn’t like Lea is brought up, thus ending that training exercise.

So, how did the actual meeting go? Honestly well. In fact, it goes so well that it almost makes you wonder if Lea pushed the worst-case scenario due to her own lingering feelings of whether Shaun and her could work vs. anything her parents felt. And even with her getting a text about thinking she isn’t mature enough for a challenging relationship, there continues to be this vibe that Lea may not be trying to hurt Shaun, but she is perhaps looking for a fight or issue when there doesn’t need to be one.

And mind you, Shaun confronts Lea’s parents, Mike and Pam, and they do make it clear it isn’t all in Lea’s head or that she is pushing her own narrative. However, after Shaun breaks things down and tells them off, low-key, it seems they take heed of Shaun’s words and try to work on their relationship with Lea, rather than solely focus on criticizing her decisions.

Oh, and just so every parental figure comes around, even Dr. Glassman makes nice with Lea. Albeit with a strained effort, but he does note he thinks she is smart and funny. It’s just his fear of something happening to Shaun remains so high that his fear of the worst has him avoiding Lea’s actions when she is at her best.

Talking To The Person, Not The Title – Olivia, Dr. Andrews, Claire, Dr. Lim, Jordan, Morgan, Dr. Glassman

When it comes to Olivia and Claire, despite talking to their superiors, in Olivia’s case, her uncle, the title doesn’t mean much in their discussions. With Olivia, Dr. Andrew’s desires for her are conflicting with her instincts. He wants her to be more like Jordan since she is bold and much easier to brag about than the quiet, though still brilliant, Olivia. Add in her methods not being showy enough or her procedures, and you can see her torn.

Olivia talking to her uncle

Luckily, Morgan, who seems to avoid the area she is supposed to work in whenever possible, pops her head in and presents her with an ultimatum. This pushes Olivia to think less of who Dr. Andrews wants her to be, which includes him using some emotional manipulation, in the form of a 20-year-old rock, or be who she is and put value into that. Leading to them, Dr. Andrews and Olivia, coming to an understanding.

That can’t be said when it comes to Dr. Lim and Claire, who now feels comfortable enough to call Dr. Lim by her first name, Audrey – which I completely forgot was her name. But, as much as Dr. Lim doesn’t mind talking to Claire, her harping on and on about her going to therapy, claiming the PTSD label, and even taking medication, it becomes a lot for Dr. Lim.

Leading to Claire revealing her investment comes from seeing what her mom went through in Dr. Lim, and with that in mind, Dr. Lim doesn’t want to be Claire’s means of making up for what she couldn’t do for her mom. So she puts Claire in the position where she feels the need to speak to Dr. Glassman who is a bit unsure if he should know Dr. Lim’s personal business and what to do once Claire reveals what she does.


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How Shaun Handled Lea’s Parents

While we get why Lea was nervous about Shaun meeting her parents, there remains this feeling that she made more of it than it had to be. For in having Shaun prep to be liked by them, he stumbled and struggled. Yet, when he was allowed to be himself, speak as he would, he not only was able to be comfortable and seem to enjoy their company, but vice versa. And while, yes, this didn’t dispel some of their ignorance, it did push the idea that it wasn’t completely a Shaun thing that Mike and Pam were worried about, but more so a Lea issue.

To us, the importance of that is realizing, when it comes to Shaun, between Carly and observation, he was ready for this moment. Hence, he was not really freaking out when she brought up her parents coming or dinner until Lea made it into a production. More so, the person who wasn’t ready is Lea. Which isn’t to say I’m looking down on her for over-preparing. After all, there is a pattern in her life of her parents not liking the guy she is with and thinking she is just a rebel looking to get under their skin.

Yet, Shaun got them together. He reminded them the person they know and the woman he loves are two different people, and there needs to be a reconciliation of these two perspectives. So while Lea can be impatient and frustrating, she is learning and growing. Partly through her relationship with Shaun and just because she is an adult who needs and uses these skills.

And at the same time, it isn’t a one-way relationship. Her maturity is in her willingness to understand others. To her parents, Lea may seem immature, but did she not know them well enough to have an idea of what they would say down pat? Despite Dr. Glassman not liking her, in her mind, has she not done better than his own wife working for him? Then with Shaun, as he notes, it takes patience and active participation to not only communicate with him but expand what he likes, doesn’t like, and is willing to do.

To make a rather long bit short, what Pam and Mike seem to see is only a snippet of Lea based on short visits that they use to reconfirm who they think she is. However, Shaun let them know, the person they keep reinforcing with their prejudice doesn’t exist anywhere but in their heads. Making it seem being too much in their head isn’t just a Lea thing.

Realizing Claire’s Connection With Dr. Lim Is Due To Her Mother

One of the good things about Claire using her mother’s death as a reason to try to help Dr. Lim is that it does remind you of Claire’s story. That her mom dying wasn’t just done for a dramatic moment, but to come back around and show that she can’t just shrug things off. And perhaps to expand on that concept, with Dr. Lim, who I refuse to call Audrey, we’re not only seeing pieces of Claire’s mom but Claire.

Remember when Claire lost a patient, due to how she stuck that thing down their throat, way back in season 1, and was pushed to go to therapy because it affected her work, you can see some of the trauma she went through with Dr. Lim. And in all honesty, considering most medical shows focus on the victories, the grand ideas that Dr. Andrews asks of the 1st years this episode, that makes room for storylines like this. When you don’t have a long series of wins and the occasional lost patient, but the storyline is a succession of deaths, and that flatline sound is stronger than your own heartbeat.

Claire volunteering to help Dr. Lim

And I think for Claire, and maybe this is why she formerly struggled with Morgan and others, in terms of friendship, she needs to see your dark side, to see you suffer to be able to bond with you. Not because she needs to feel superior, or angelic in comparison, but due to Claire finding her purpose in life through having the role as the healer, the helper, or that shoulder to lean on.

Take her friendship with Morgan. Until she realized Morgan needed her, wasn’t just looking for someone to fill her time or make into a fun project, Claire didn’t know what to do with Morgan’s pursuit. So with Dr. Lim, rather than it be about mentorship, it is about saving the person she couldn’t. Making Dr. Lim under Claire’s care and getting better, meaning Claire gets to redeem herself for not getting to do so for her mom.

Olivia Truly Trying To Forge Her Own Path

The more we see of Dr. Andrews and Olivia, the more you feel like the show is pushing that Olivia is the daughter Dr. Andrews and his wife didn’t/ couldn’t have. Now, it would have been nice if she was introduced sooner, especially when Dr. Andrews’ wife was around and her ability or desire to have a child was still fresh on our minds, but you can’t have it all.

So, we’re fine settling with Dr. Andrews watching his niece grow up to be still under his influence yet still on this quest to be her own person.

Lea and Dr. Glassman Having A Heart To Heart

It’s always a nice thing to be retold that Shaun is the closest thing to a child Dr. Glassman has. For even without invoking the death of his daughter, you can see Dr. Glassman still holding on for dear life. After all, in terms of being a parent, Shaun is the one person who makes Dr. Glassman feel like he did something right. When it comes to Shaun, his sacrifices weren’t for the betterment of himself, but for the other person. Hence where Shaun is today.

Yet, despite how capable Shaun is on his own, and despite that slap that cut the strings many seasons ago, there is still this connection and fear. One Lea doesn’t think is necessary, but Dr. Glassman is still poppa. Granted, Shaun never called him that but considering he’ll likely run to him like a father, let’s just imagine him calling Dr. Glassman that. Maybe due to Dr. Glassman asking just to help salve his own parental wound.

How Emotional Darya’s Story Could Get You

I’m noticing with season 4, especially this half, that the patients have stronger stories and aren’t just about boosting the lead cast members. It reminded me of season 1 when patients seemed to be their own person, with their own lives, and you feeling their story was part of their own show. Darya and her dad’s situation furthered that since, taking note of how her dad changed course to avoid dealing with the pain and frustration of being a single parent, and now that course hitting a dead end, it hits you. Especially when you take notice, Darya had no desire to change their relationship and would rather end it through the legal system than let it change.

Darya's Dad (Kristoffer Polaha) in a hospital bed
Darya’s Dad (Kristoffer Polaha)

Yet, even if it was callous on Dr. Lim’s part, being reminded she is a child and how much she loves her father, it was a nice reset. One that left me in tears, I don’t know about you.

On The Fence

Claire Snitching On Dr. Lim

This has the potential to blow up in Claire’s face. Mainly due to Claire having a history of going to upper management when she doesn’t like something her superior does. But, as we said earlier, getting too close to Claire can often be the kiss of death for a character. Especially if the power dynamics shift and either you do not accept her help or feels too reliant on you.

Dr. Lim reminded Claire she isn't her mother or some project for her
Dr. Lim: I’m not your mother, Claire

Heck, I’d even say Morgan no longer getting to be a surgeon was Morgan’s taste of Claire’s curse.

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Community Rating: 0.00% (0) - No Community Ratings Submitted (Add Yours Below)
Claire Snitching On Dr. Lim - 76%
How Emotional Darya's Story Could Get You - 83%
Lea and Dr. Glassman Having A Heart To Heart - 82%
Olivia Truly Trying To Forge Her Own Path - 81%
Realizing Claire's Connection With Dr. Lim Is Due To Her Mother - 84%
How Shaun Handled Lea's Parents - 87%


As Dr. Lim's PTSD gets worse, so comes the question of whether Claire's need to save her goes overboard, just as much as Dr. Andrews trying to mold Olivia in his image. But, at the very least, Shaun shows all his socializing and dating history has made him the perfect guy to bring home.

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  1. I agree with you, Amari, this whole meet the parents-plot was not only about Shaun being more capable of handling social interactions; it was very much about exploring fears Lea had – probably for a long time. When we met Shaun’s parents back in 310 “Friends and Family”, Lea shared some fond memories of her parents with Shaun and a very grouchy Glassy in that bar, although she had stressed before what a disaster her family was.

    Lea had some unfinished business with her parents (well, probably her mother mostly) she feared to face, just as Shaun hesitated to confront his father.

    Again, it becomes clear that this episode resonates with previous episodes, but while Shaun had to deal with an abusive father and abandonment by a weak mother, Lea’s story is that of a teenager rebelling (marriage right out of high school!) against a judgmental, domineering mother and a subservient father who tries to mediate and accommodate (take note that all the hard talk was done by Pam while Mike tried to diffuse the tension).

    While Shaun lacked parent’s love, Lea obviously lacked her parent’s affirmation. Which might explain her low self-esteem. For describing herself as needy, she in fact is constantly seeking (self-) affirmation. Thus, she readily accepts Shaun’s praise of her perfect body in front of the newbies in 403 and even stresses how enjoyable her breasts are. That’s why Shaun’s mention of her voice had such and devastating effect on her. And that’s why her parents’ verdict still matters to Lea, although Shaun early on points out that it is of no consequence because they’re adults.

    Looking at Lea’s family history this way, there is some resemblance to how Morgan the “little plodder” (313) is troubled by her artistic mother. And I wonder if this is the reason why Morgan was – again after 306 – part of a rehearsal for Shaun’s benefit when Debbie would have been a much more logical choice to accompany Glassman in a private setting.

    As for when Debbie will be seen again? It is hard to tell, but if we get scenes at a fundraiser, she might tag along. That also would be a good opportunity for a guest appearance of Tamlyn Tomita, but this season is firmly committed to interpersonal relationships, while her character Aoki always represented hospital politics. As long as the character is not strictly necessary for the narrative, such as re-instating Glassman as president in 301, we probably won’t see her again.

  2. Beautiful musings on a beautiful episode, Amari. Yet, I have to contradict two of your conclusions. 😉

    The case of the week was obviously still linked to the main characters, although it was mostly an inversion of the dilemmas the others faced. Darya thought of herself to be mature enough to be fine without her parent while she needed the guidance of her father; the others had to free themselves from the influence their parents still had over their lives and heads.

    The second is that the dinner with Lea’s parents went considerably well. It did not. It was a well-hidden afront. Pam’s deliberate pause between “Is it hard?” and “For you?” made clear that for Lea’s mother, Shaun’s accomplishments as a surgeon are superseded by his autism.

    Lea’s parents, or rather her mother, thought being with Shaun was an act of rebellion, that she was using Shaun’s autism to get under her parents’ skin – implying that a neurotypical girl wouldn’t truly love an autistic boy. Nice wording for sugarcoating the prejudice. Pam was taking them both out in one shot, indeed.

    It was the perfect occasion for Shaun to stand up for his girlfriend, showing how far he has come in understanding how his relationship with Lea works. Although, for his speech, he was putting to good use what he witnessed in episode 106 “Not Fake”, when a judge said the same about knowing the same person now and then to parents and a bride were arguing about amputating the groom’s leg.

    So, The Good Doctor continues to visit older scenarios and apply it to new stories, illustrating how characters have changed over the course of three and a half seasons – or not.

    Because when it comes to Claire, by her actions in “Parenting”, her character appears more to be weathered than matured. When pressed hard, Claire still falls back to her old ways: being manipulative and ruthless in pursuing her goals.
    In 204 “Tough Titmouse”, Claire was caught between her 18-year-old rock climber and her parents. When the young women declined Claire’s proposal for a procedure that would immobilize her neck and end her sport (it probably didn’t help that the patient chose Morgan’s therapy proposal instead), Claire manipulated the parents to have her daughter declared mentally incompetent. Thus, leaving the women with a life-long disability, unable to perform her passion and so estranged to her parents that she never wanted to see them again.

    All of this just because Claire was projecting her problems with her own mother on the case, as she admitted later that episode (and competing with Morgan). Claire can be a very destructive force – just as her mother. This is the tragedy of this well-liked, empathetic character, a dark side well hidden, striking you down out of the blue.

    Will that blow in her face now with Glassman knowing? Certainly. Claire pushed every button with the hospital president she needed. He has to act know. He is responsible for the safety and health of his employees, for providing the best care for the patients – and he must answer to the board about all of that. Claire has both, Lim and Glassman, cornered. Just as she pulled strings with Aoki to be reinstated after Melendez had her removed from his team.

    But this will certainly re-define her relationships with Lim and to a lower extend with Glassman for the second half of the season. And it could all blow up at the annual fundraiser they’re busy planning. Remember the other fundraiser back in episode 115 “Heartfelt”, when Jared broke up with Claire?

    And speaking of projections and a certain hospital president, Glassy the Grouchy Second Dad wasn’t just fearing for the worst with Shaun, because when he claimed that the relationship with Lea was rushed, he actually was speaking of his head over heels-proposal to Debbie – and we know that they have been struggling with that ever since. 😉

    1. I understand where you’re coming from. For the second point, I would like to follow up if you think Lea herself wasn’t just prepping Shaun for her parents but maybe expressing her own fears? Because, after the Carly arc, and taking note how you remind us everything is a reference to a previous episode, I was thinking maybe this was to show that, despite how some see Shaun’s social skills, he is more flexible and adaptable than given credit for? Hence it going well, in my mind, since, while Lea’s parents were certainly ignorant, they weren’t antagonistic to the level of Shaun’s father, which is what I was expecting based on her build-up.

      And your mention of Debbie makes me wonder when she might be featured, considering Glassman is now interacting with characters, as well as whether Allegra is considered written off the show or will reappear at the fundraiser?

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